Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Petals in the Ashes, by Mary Hooper

At the end of At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (reviewed here a few weeks ago), Hannah and her sister have escaped the Plague in London.  Expecting to be welcomed with open arms by Lady Jane (whose orphaned niece they have rescued and brought into the country), they are rudely surprised to end up in quarantine for forty days instead.  But they survive this trial to be plunged into new challenges.

When the Plague has passed and it is judged safe to return to the city, Hannah is anxious to go back.  Ostensibly, to set back up their shop, but also to find handsome young Tom, who helped them escape.  But no sooner has she restored their business and made progress in locating Tom, then a new calamity befalls them:  the Great Fire of 1666!

While not a big fan of sequels, this seemed like a more organic continuance of the story than most, and too good of a concept to pass up.  For the most part, it charmed as much as the first book.  Hooper maintains the ability to spin out strong historic details and keeps the pace lively enough to make this brief book a fast read.  The story, if anything, is a bit rushed and seemed to have far more loose ends and glossed-over plot points (the rescued baby, for example, while allegedly missed, hardly merits a mention once it is unloaded with its aunt) than the first installment.  Good historical writing, but perhaps just enough of a good thing (for once, the trilogy rule did not get enforced)!

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